This is the only place where I feel the power of having a voice. The blank page listens to me. It gives me its full attention. I feel heard.
It would be unfair of me – as well as a cognitive distortion – to say “no one ever listens to me”. But I’m going to be upfront: this is the first thing that pops into my head when someone I want to hear me, doesn’t. My immediate emotional reaction to a present instance of not being heard, that frustration – and on a much deeper level, hurt, because not being listened to is being rejected – colors my perception of the event, and it is added to a long narrative of other such events which resemble it in any way, no matter how small. The only thing needed to set off the telling of this particular Tale of Injustice Against Me is a little tap on that button there, which got hit when this not-getting-listened-to business bounced in unexpectedly.
So there in my brain is this entire unfolded saga and every stab of the knife of the central emotions is happening at once, it’s on however many flickering movie screens in that space in my consciousness that’s so close to the world it almost feels outside of me, each screen supercharged with fermented, risen-from-the-dead painful emotion. And all those rotting zombie emotions get together and form a groaning horde, focused on only one end: To eat my brain.
Because now everything I see is colored by this fucked-up perception, so I am not seeing clearly, and if I’m not seeing clearly, I’m not thinking clearly. Not only has the current event been distorted, it’s been tossed into a pit with however many other events where it will endlessly reanimate when new, fresh meat is thrown onto the pile. And rest assured, it will be – because the bigger the pile, the more I’m going to see this negative theme in every interaction. I’ll actually ignore the good things to look for it.
That is, unless I can recognize that this happens. Recognize the distortion, the generalizations of “never”, of “always”… These words are usually good indicators that maybe I need to take a look at the evidence. And if I look at what is real, and not just what I perceive in my moment of pique, I find that actually, quite a few people have listened to me. There have been many people who have, in fact, heard me. So while the zombie horde of emotional baggage wants to pull me into the Victim Dimension, I know that I do not belong there.
And because I can free myself from this vortex of the Woe Is Me Narrative my brain is for all its might attempting to suck me into, I am able to figure out that actually, in this particular instance, it’s just that the people I want to hear me, aren’t. There could be any number of reasons for that. Some of those reasons may have nothing at all to do with me. And just because they don’t hear me now, doesn’t mean they never will. This may be a situation that can be remedied. It may even be an opportunity to learn something – if only how not to get triggered when Life hits one of your sore spots.
Of course, this is all well and good when you’re able to think things through. That doesn’t always happen though, does it?
Coming soon: The Trigger Plan…